“Valentine’s Day at The Rose Parade” for Beacon Media Newspapers

December 2007

Sierra Madre Rose Float Association President Robert Young and two Rose Parade princesses and their escorts presented an illustration of and information about Sierra Madre’s Tournament of Roses Parade float “Valentine’s Day” to the Sierra Madre Garden Club Monday night.

“It’s always fun to see the young people that are going on the float and see the float in its different stages,” said 14-year Sierra Madre Garden Club member Lillias Eubanks.

This year’s Tournament of Roses Parade theme is Passport to the World’s Celebrations and Sierra Madre Princess Hanna Storley explained that “Valentine’s Day is celebrated throughout many countries around the world and there is no other holiday that is more closely related to roses.”

The float theme, which was submitted by a Utah resident, can be submitted by anyone through the Sierra Madre Rose Float Association website and once it has been chosen in February by the SMRFA and approved by the Tournament of Roses the designers and engineers put together a construction plan to build and flower the new float.

Charles Meier, who has designed the last two years’ award-winning Sierra Madre floats, designed this year’s float as a Victorian valentine complete with swans, lacy butterflies and Victorian-costumed princesses and escorts on the float as well as people riding penny farthing bicycles and bicycles built for two outside the float.

“This year the Sierra Madre rose float will set an all-time record for varieties of roses used,” said Princess Alexandra Flores. “The gardens will bloom with over 80 different varieties of roses. The record for the most varieties used is 50 varieties.”

The Sierra Madre Rose Float Association has participated in the Tournament of Roses Parade since 1917.

“Valentine’s Day” is one of six self-built floats in the parade and is strictly financed through donations and fundraisers. The float will cost about $32,000, the same it cost last year, said Young, while most of the floats will cost in excess of $250,000, escort Andrew Perine told the Sierra Madre Garden Club.

To help finance the float, the Sierra Madre Garden Club presented a check to the SMRFA for $200, which was raised through club dues and fundraisers, like a plant sale at the Wistaria Festival, said Sierra Madre Garden Club President Glenn Putnam.

“The Valentine rose will make its rose parade debut on the Sierra Madre float,” said Flores. “It is fluorescent red and will decorate several hearts at the front of the float. Sierra Madre will also introduce the brand new absolute rose which is the only white rose that is truly pure white and was developed for brides who wanted roses to match their wedding gowns.”

The Tournament of Roses rules for parade float entries are that everything must be organic material, the float must include roses, nothing can be dyed and nothing can be used to represent itself.

“You cannot use a tree to represent a tree,” said Flores. “It needs to be built from other materials.”

The day after Christmas will mark the beginning of Deco Week, when over 200-300 retired volunteers from all over the United States arrive in RVs, stay at the Santa Anita race track and work on the floral preparation.

The fresh flowers are applied during the last three days before the parade and each of the 30,000 flowers must be placed in a water-filled vile before being placed on the float, said Perine.

To volunteer with the Valentine’s Day float or submit ideas for next year’s float go to sierramadrerosefloat.org or call 626.355.7005.

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